Its strong ties to the esports scene is what has led League of Legends to become the most popular competitive game on the planet in recent years. The League Championship Series (LCS), as well as professional players streaming in their free time, continues to provide entertainment for an ever-growing audience. In fact, the value in watching competitive League of Legends can easily be judged on how Riot Games partnered with BAMTech last year for a massive $300 million streaming deal.
Perhaps it would not be fair to say that League of Legends completely relies on its competitive scene. However, it is undeniable that there is a large global audience that is interested in watching the game’s esports scene even if they no longer play the game.
On that account, it is equally important for Riot Games to make sure that League of Legends remains attractive enough to keep pulling in watchers. The community usually expects every professional League of Legends game to be full of action. While the developer has worked around this in the past by making games shorter and the early-phase more heated, there is no guarantee the number of kills in a match.
According to design director Riot Ghostcrawler, “esports is a spectator sport” and a game like League of Legends must be interesting to watch. With an ever-changing meta, professional teams may focus on objectives and passive-play over skirmishes. This leads to teams putting up fewer kills on the board. While both sides show great strategical awareness, the average viewer is more likely to flip the channel switch out of boredom.
Riot Games is well-aware of this problem, which has been brought up in the last couple of years. While it is not that concerning for the time being, the future might see League of Legends adapt further to force players into battling each other for the viewer’s enjoyment.
“It’s fine if the occasional game has low deaths, because that rarity makes it unusual and therefore interesting,” said the developer on the Nexus. “But if low deaths become the norm and the audience is disengaged then we’ll almost certainly step in.”
That being said, Riot Games stated that it always strives for balance, “where the game is competitive and enjoyable for pros to play while also being awesome to watch and cheer along to.”
A clear example of how the developer continues to change League of Legends for more action in the early game is the new Rift Herald. The minion has been adjusted to run down lanes and fight for the side who managed to slay it in the first place.